The Standing Committee on Appropriations discussed and approved its report on the 2017 Division of Revenue Bill. The Committee went through the report paragraph by paragraph to make amendments where the members saw necessary. This mainly included making grammatical and wording changes because it was understood that this information will go to the public and that it is important that jargon is not used so that any member of the public can understand this document. Another important factor was the coherence and consistency in the style of writing. .
According to the report, complete eradication of the bucket system is an urgent matter and timeframes should be clear on the completion of the programme. On this, there was a discussion on the urgency of the complete eradication of this programme but one member raised the point that it will be close to impossible to eradicate the bucket system of sanitation because informal settlements continually spring up from nowhere in the major cities thus to say it must be eradicated is not realistic. The Chairperson and other members who live and work particularly in the rural areas felt that the bucket system needs to be eradicated with the utmost urgency.
Consideration of report on 2017 Division of Revenue Bill
The Chairperson asked the members to go through the report paragraph by paragraph and to raise any issues they pick up that need to be amended.
The Chairperson asked if the figures represented on table 1 on page 3 were accurate.
Mr S Emam (NFP) made a grammatical correction.
The Chairperson asked if the figures were correct and everyone agreed. She stressed the importance of correct figures because the document will be given to the public and they do not want to mislead the public with incorrect figures.
The Chairperson asked if everyone was happy with the figures reflected on table 2 and went through the bullet points one by one on page 4.
Mr A McLoughlin (DA) made a grammatical correction on bullet number 2.
Mr Emam made a grammatical correction.
Mr McLoughlin made a grammatical correction on the heading 2.2 on page 4.
The Chairperson asked about the third bullet and sought assurance if everyone was happy since there was so much silence.
Mr Emam highlighted that they should be very careful with the wording because this can change the whole meaning of a sentence. He said the wording should be in line with the purpose.
The Chairperson referred to table 4 and asked members if they were happy with the accuracy of the figures there.
Mr McLoughlin stated that the footnote should be inserted before Source: National Treasury
Mr Emam said there is going to be the same problem as the previous page. That is because of the semi colon thus consistency must be key throughout the report.
Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) made a grammatical correction
Mr McLoughlin proposed that the word “include” be added before the bullet points on page 7.
The Chairperson asked if everyone was happy with bullet points.
Mr N Kwankwa (UDM) raised a suggestion which agreed with Mr Gcwabaza’s grammatical correction.
The Chairperson said she had a problem with this last bullet because several times the Committee discussed the Bucket Eradication Programme Grant and this is not what they agreed upon. This service can not end but there must be a continuation of the service as long as buckets are there.
Mr Steven Kenyon, Director: Local Government, National Treasury, said that the numbers pertaining to the bucket eradication programme grant are a bit complicated due to the changes. The bucket eradication programme grant was introduced in 2014 as a grant for two years - 2014 and 2015 with around R900 million budgeted for each year. When the function was shifted to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) there was a lot of under spending in the 2015 year, thus spending was much reduced in that year. The grant was supposed to end in the year 2015. However, in the 2016 budget, the grant was extended for one year with an allocation of R350 million. Although several individual projects were reduced in that grant due to delays, additional money was added to the grant because the scope of the projects has changed and increased. In 2016 the grants were supposed to end at the end of that year but this was not possible because the work of the bucket eradication programme had been changed from providing immediate intervention to a programme that provides holistic sanitation. Therefore, in 2017 the remaining projects were increased in funding because they got bigger and took longer terms.
The Committee Secretary proposed that the Committee makes a recommendation to the Minister of DWS to come with an implementation report of when the Bucket Eradication Programme will end.
Ms S Shope-Sithole (ANC) reiterated what Mr Kenyon was saying concerning the bucket eradication programme grant being granted for two years and the extension with an allocation of R350 million. This programme was moved to the DWS and the Committee can not ask National Treasury “where is the bucket system” because it is now included in the holistic sanitation programme.
Ms C Madlopha (ANC) agreed with Ms Sithole and said when this particular service was moved from the Department of Human Settlements to Water and Sanitation that caused delays in the service of the projects. The issue of bucket eradication is close to Chairperson's heart because she has first-hand experience of it. In her view, the problem is now clear.
Mr McLoughlin raised the point that it will be close to impossible to eradicate the bucket system of sanitation because informal settlements continually spring up from nowhere in the major cities thus to say it must be eradicated is not realistic. He stressed that this must be read in context because many of the grants had been merged into one grant. Thus, the grant will not be in existence of its own now and that can not be changed.
The Chairperson asked if they could move on to point 2.3. She asked bullet by bullet if members had any issues and corrections to make.
Mr McLoughlin made a grammatical correction on bullet 4 and 5.
Ms Madlopha commented on the grammar in the first paragraph and asked that it be corrected.
The Chairperson said that it is fine and there’s no need for it to be corrected and asked if honourable member McLoughlin has any recommendation. He did not have any recommendations.
Ms Madlophe made a grammatical correction to the second paragraph.
The Chairperson went on to page 8 and asked the members to go through the pages paragraph by paragraph and that they should raise any issues which they pick up.
Mr McLoughlin made a grammatical correction on paragraph 2
Mr Emam said he thinks the wording is not correct and that the wording be changed.
Mr McLoughlin said that the commission accepted the fact.
The Chairperson said there is a study on the linkage between increase and productivity, and stated that the results of this study have not yet been adopted. She articulated that it is still a document that awaits finalisation. There can be implementation only after it is adopted by the cabinet. She then asked the members what their take is on this issue.
The Committee Secretary said the National Treasury is just reiterating what it found in its studies.
The Chairperson made a grammatical correction and asked for support from members.
Mr McLoughlin said she can use the word felt instead of opinion in paragraph 3 of page 8.
The Chairperson asked about the sub–sections 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4. She asked members if they picked up any issues. In these sections, it was mostly grammatical corrections.
Mr A Figg (DA) said he finds it disturbing that all other stakeholders were called by name but Equal Education is referred to as “it” and he made a grammatical correction while recommending that acronyms be used.
Mr Emam said that the circumstances of the child must be taken into consideration when deciding which quintile they belong to. He said most tend to think that because a learner is in a quintile 5 school, they do not need any funding from the State. Most black learners in quintile schools still need assistance because many of them come from impoverished homes, thus the quintile or school does not always reflect the financial status of their home.
Amendments from sub–sections 4 and 5 were of a grammatical nature.
The Chairperson asked the members if they are willing to adopt the report with its amendments and they agreed unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned.